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Is ‘Healthy Coke’ Healthier Than Real Coke?

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Is ‘Healthy Coke’ Healthier Than Real Coke?

Just when we thought TikTok couldn’t bring about any weirder trends, its latest craze known as “healthy Coke” has raised questions and confusion among experts and users alike. If you haven’t heard of it, “healthy Coke” became a phenomenon after TikToker Amanda Jones said it was a healthier alternative to the soft drink. It consists of ice, balsamic vinegar and sparkling water. Yes, you read that right: Balsamic vinegar — the ingredient you add to salad dressings. The idea is that the mixture is supposed to taste like Coca-Cola. But does it really?

Everyone knows drinking sodas regularly isn’t the best thing for our health, but is it really worth replacing it with a fizzy, vinegar-based drink? TikTok is known to be influential on teens, so it’s concerning that they’re being told that they should drink vinegar instead of a soda if they’re craving the beverage. With all the latest wellness trends on TikTok, it’s easy to get consumed in that world, but should you believe everything you see? 

To find out, I spoke with a couple of dietitians and a dentist. Here’s what they had to say about this latest TikTok trend.

‘Healthy Coke’ contributes to diet culture

One of the big issues with “healthy Coke” is that it’s another trend rooted in diet culture. “This is a lower-calorie alternative to drinking regular soda, and many people think that makes it automatically healthier, and that’s not the case,” said Christine Byrne, a North Carolina-based registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. 

Gabriela Barreto, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist, agrees, noting that the trend perpetuates the notion that there are good versus bad foods or beverages. “It implies that sugar is the enemy and that there are certain foods that will make or break your health, which is all a product of diet culture,” she said. “By assigning foods a moral value, we reiterate the idea that eating these foods means that you are doing something wrong or bad and that continues to grow a negative relationship with food for many people.” As a result of these habits, many people end up developing disordered eating. 

Overconsumption of sugary drinks is not good for us because it puts us at risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and much more. But let’s be honest, when you opt to drink a soda, chances are you aren’t drinking it for its health benefits. You drink it because you crave the sugar, carbonation or caffeine, or simply because you enjoy it. 

“Regular coke isn’t something you should drink at every meal, but as part of a nourishing overall diet, it’s fine to have one sometimes,” said Byrne. If you drink soda, she added, it’s best to pair it with a meal or snack, because getting many nutrients (not just sugar) will help keep your blood sugar more stable.

It’s just as acidic as soda

Similar to other carbonated beverages, “healthy Coke” is highly acidic. Every food and drink has a pH value that indicates how acidic or alkaline it is. To determine the acidity level, the product is usually tested using pH strips or a pH meter, and then measured against a pH scale, which has a range from zero to 14. Water, for example, is considered neutral, and has a pH value of 7. Anything with a pH value below 7 is considered acidic, and anything with a pH value above 7 is considered low in acid, or alkaline. 

“Consuming that amount of balsamic vinegar, which is highly acidic at a pH of 2 to 3, in a beverage can be harmful,” said Barreto. This is because highly acidic beverages can erode tooth enamel, irritate your esophagus and create or worsen acid reflux. “Generally, when we consume balsamic vinegar in a salad, there are other ingredients and the content of balsamic vinegar is not that high,” she added.

From an oral care perspective, the “healthy Coke” trend isn’t any healthier than consuming a regular soda. “The pH of vinegar is about 2 to 3, which is around the same level of acidity as a full sugar Coke or a Diet Coke, meaning it’s equally as detrimental to the enamel in high volumes,” said Dr. Joyce Kahng, a California-based cosmetic dentist. “For reference, tooth enamel demineralizes at a pH of 5.5, so regardless of whether it is a regular Coke or not, both are unhealthy for teeth.”

Possible health risks involved

It’s important to know that the “healthy Coke” trend may not be suitable for everyone who wants to try it. People who have issues with their esophagus and acid reflux should avoid this trend. “For someone with gastroesophageal reflux disease, such an acidic and bubbly drink could cause acid reflux, although the same is true for any kind of sparkling drink, as well as anything with lots of acid,” explained Byrne.

For most people, there aren’t any physical health risks to be concerned about, according to Byrne. However, If you’re on medication and worried about a potential interaction, always ask your doctor or pharmacist first. 

If you choose to drink “healthy Coke” or other carbonated beverages, Kahng suggests drinking it within a short time frame or with a meal. “Sipping on something that is acidic over a long period of time is the worst thing you can do because it prolongs an acidic pH intraorally,” she said. “Remember that the carbonation and flavors reduce the pH into the acidic zone, which is not great for teeth.”

You’re better off drinking the real deal

Now that you know that “healthy Coke” may not be worth the hype, you’re probably wondering if you’re better off drinking the real deal or the diet version. “Soda has been branded as one of the main culprits and major causes for metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but metabolic diseases are very complex,” said Barreto. “There are many factors including genetics, environment, overall lifestyle, socioeconomic status and more.”  

She acknowledges that while soda contains sugar, she doesn’t believe that sugar is something to be feared. “The more fearmongering we place around certain products or ingredients, the worse our relationship with food gets,” she said. “And we know from growing research and experience, this doesn’t work in improving people’s health at all, because it leads to more restrictive dieting, which ends up worsening not bettering one’s health.”

As far as diet soda goes, there’s been speculation over the years about its health value, but evidence is lacking to support this. Although the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners is still up for debate, it’s generally safe to consume. “There are many myths out there about diet soda, such as that it will actually increase your blood sugar, increase insulin response, make you crave more sugar and so forth,” said Barreto. There are even claims that artificial sweeteners can cause changes to your gut bacteria, which isn’t entirely false. “While this is potentially true, the dosage that can cause harm or changes is much higher than that found in a single can of diet Coke,” she said.

Overall, Barreto thinks diet soda is a good alternative for people who enjoy the taste of soda but have to monitor their blood sugar levels, such as those with diabetes. Byrne points out some people may experience bloating and bad breath from drinking diet soda. “Just as with regular Coke, and even “healthy Coke,” it’s unlikely that drinking diet sodas sometimes will have any huge impact on your health, good or bad, because no single food or drink is powerful enough to do that.”

Bottom line

It’s important to reiterate that just because something is trending on TikTok doesn’t mean it should be copied. It’s healthy to question viral trends and ask yourself how they could be harmful or helpful. If you’re ever in a bind, it’s best to err on the side of caution and ask a professional first. 

If you’ve tried the “healthy Coke” trend and genuinely like it, then, by all means, drink away. But if you’re not into it, that’s okay, too — you can opt for the real deal or the diet version instead. The most important takeaway from this is that not every food or drink needs to be “healthified,” and you should be able to enjoy your favorite foods or drinks in their original form. According to Byrne, “There’s no need to create ‘healthier’ versions of your favorite foods because these swaps will never satisfy you the way the real thing will.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.



(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods



Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels


Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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